LANSING, MICHIGAN (AP) – Students of a former University of Michigan lecturer recounted stories of alleged sexual assault, psychological torture and university negligence on Monday before filing a lawsuit against the professor and the school.
On a Zoom call with reporters, the two former students described Bruce Conforth, a musician who taught in the American Culture department, as the “cool professor” who talked about playing music with various rock stars.
They said Conforth would meet up with students and advised them to follow their dreams.
Conforth did not respond to a message left by the Associated Press (AP) on his website.
Isabelle Brourman, who alleges Conforth repeatedly raped her over the course of four years, said students knew the only way to get off the waitlist for his class was to have a personal encounter with him.
Brourman said she and Conforth met several times, during which he instilled fear in Brourman by saying he was in the Illuminati, a secret society, and threatening that there would be grave consequences if she did not meet him.
In the summer of 2014, she said she was getting hourly emails from Conforth and encrypted e-mail addresses from supposed members of the group threatening violence.
“He managed to secure a world around me so that he was the only one I could turn to,” Brourman said. “I was told that if I spoke of what I had read in these e-mails, I would be punished.”
The lawsuit filed on Monday in Washtenaw County on behalf of eight women alleges years of sexual harassment and assault dating back to 2004. It also said that the university knew or should have known about the abuse and ignored it. The lawsuit seeks damages and names the university, its regents and Conforth as defendants.